Peninsula, Yeon Sang-ho’s follow-up to his 2016 zombie smash, Train To Busan, is off to a thrilling start at the international box office where it kicked off in three markets beginning yesterday. In the home hub of Korea, Peninsula (aka Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula) had a Wednesday take of $2.4M on 2,338 screens to log the biggest opening score of the year. It sold 353K tickets on Day One, more than the entire number of admissions for all titles from the previous frame. Through today, based on Kobiz estimates, Peninsula has clocked $4M in the market so far. Next Entertainment World has Korean distribution.
These numbers are naturally lower than 2016’s Train To Busan, back when the world was a very different place and moviegoing was not hobbled by the coronavirus situation. Korean box office this past weekend was 87% down from last year’s comparable frame, for example. Still, it’s another shot in the arm for Korea which has consistently been among the lead overseas markets during the easing of COVID restrictions — although the last two frames saw significant decreases across the Top 10 titles. Three weeks ago, another Korean zombie horror thriller, #Alive, became one of the most successful releases amid the coronavirus pandemic — another testament to audience hunger for fresh titles. Korea is the 4th biggest overseas market and thrives with local product.
In Taiwan — where theaters were never ordered to close during the pandemic — Peninsula’s $799K Wednesday bow was better than Train To Busan, per international sales agent Contents Panda (Movie Cloud is releasing there). In Singapore, a $106K Wednesday debut via Clover Films, gave Pensinsula the highest launch of a Korean title ever in the market.
In each of the three markets, Peninsula is a clear No. 1 and should see strong play throughout the session. The film has an early Naver audience score of 8.39, and a 6.14 from Korean critics. These are also below Train To Busan (8.59/7.1), though with fewer people polled.
Peninsula has been one of the most anticipated Korean movies of the year and picks up four years after the original. It centers on Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won), a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, and relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive. When his team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best — or worst — of human nature prevails in the direst of circumstances.
The movie was part of the official selection of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is set to hit North American theaters via Well Go on August 7. It also landed an exclusive streaming deal with Shudder, AMC’s horror streaming site. Contents Panda has sold the film to 190 countries.
Well Go had also released the original film, where the passengers on a train from Seoul to Busan struggle against a zombie virus outbreak. The genre pic set records in its Korean release, grossed $2.1M in the U.S. and Canada, and totaled $92.7M worldwide.
Peninsula opens in Malaysia today. We’ll update with figures through the weekend.